A monologue from the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Possessed. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Macmillian Company, 1916.
VARVARA: Stay, hold your tongue, don’t be in a hurry! You’re a sensible girl, and there must be no mistakes in your life. Now … though you will have money under my will, yet when I die, what will become of you, even if you have money? You’ll be deceived and robbed of your money, you’ll be lost in fact. But married to him you’re the wife of a distinguished man. Look at him on the other hand. Though I’ve provided for him, if I die what will become of him? But I could trust him to you.
Stay, I’ve not finished. He’s frivolous, shilly-shally, cruel, egoistic, he has low habits. But mind you think highly of him, in the first place because there are many worse. I don’t want to get you off my hands by marrying you to a rascal, you don’t imagine anything of that sort, do you? He’s an old woman, but you know, that’s all the better for you. You understand me, don’t you? Do you understand me? He will complain of you, he’ll begin to say things against you behind your back, he’ll whisper things against you to any stray person he meets, he’ll be for ever whining and whining; he’ll write you letters from one room to another, two a day, but he won’t be able to get on without you all the same, and that’s the chief thing. Make him obey you.
If you can’t make him you’ll be a fool. He’ll want to hang himself and threaten, to–don’t you believe it. It’s nothing but nonsense. Don’t believe it; but still keep a sharp look-out, you never can tell, and one day he may hang himself. It does happen with people like that. It’s not through strength of will but through weakness that people hang themselves, and so never drive him to an extreme, that’s the first rule in married life. Of course I’m not forcing you. It’s entirely for you to decide. Sit down–I haven’t finished. In my will I’ve left you fifteen thousand roubles. I’ll give you that at once, on your wedding-day.
You will give eight thousand of it to him; that is, not to him but to me. He has a debt of eight thousand. I’ll pay it, but he must know that it is done with your money. You’ll have seven thousand left in your hands. Never let him touch a farthing of it. Don’t pay his debts ever. If you pay them, you’ll never be free of them. Besides, I shall always be here. You shall have twelve hundred roubles a year from me, with extras, fifteen hundred, besides board and lodging, which shall be at my expense, just as he has it now. Only you must set up your own servants. Your yearly allowance shall be paid to you all at once straight into your hands.
But be kind, and sometimes give him something, and let his friends come to see him once a week, but if they come more often, turn them out. Of course, I shall be here, too. And if I die, your pension will go on till his death, do you hear, till his death, for it’s his pension, not yours. And besides the seven thousand you’ll have now, which you ought to keep untouched if you’re not foolish, I’ll leave you another eight thousand in my will. And you’ll get nothing more than that from me, it’s right that you should know it. Come, you consent, eh? Will you say something at last?